Ryan Pace, as with any GM, has his own ways to approach an NFL draft each year. One of the more interesting revelations he made came back in 2017. Following the draft, he pointed out that the Chicago Bears established something they call their “Bears Box.” Essentially it is a limited list of players in the draft they feel embody everything they would want in a prospect. Both on and off the field.
- Great locker room guy
- Work ethic
This approach has worked pretty well. Especially as Pace has continued to gain experience and refine it. The Bears are an athletic team on both sides of the ball. They have a strong locker room that has survived some difficult ups and downs the past two years. To top it off, most of their prominent players are renowned for being self-motivated. Just look at 5th round pick Darnell Mooney from last year for a reminder.
So it’s that time again. Looking ahead to the 2021 NFL draft, who are some potential names that would fit the Bears Box this year?
Names Ryan Pace will have circled come this April
Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
Offensive tackle is a position the Bears haven’t addressed early in a draft for almost a decade now. Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie are both getting older. The latter can’t seem to stay healthy. This upcoming class feels like the perfect opportunity to bring in some fresh blood. Radunz might be the exact sort of guy they like.
Ok, Dillon Radunz! pic.twitter.com/pyg7SjKHKq
— Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) January 24, 2021
While having only cut his teeth against FCS competition, the big left tackle was a rock for North Dakota State during their epic run of success the past few years. Not only did his athleticism and good feet show up in pass protection. His power and nastiness were hard to miss in the run game too. He’s known for being an unselfish player completely focused on the next game and doing his job. The same credo Matt Nagy champions.
Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama
Injuries are a part of Dickerson’s history at Alabama, but they haven’t stopped him. His toughness and ability to work back from constant setbacks are hard to ignore. The guy is a decent enough athlete with above-average technique and a power base that allowed him to blow open running lanes or stonewall big defensive linemen.
Very cool moment: Nick Saban put in OL Landon Dickerson to snap the ball in the final seconds as Alabama went to victory formation. Dickeson tore his ACL in the SEC Championship game a few weeks ago. Teammates love the guy and you can see why. pic.twitter.com/qcUj1uBIVj
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) January 12, 2021
Nick Saban named him one of just four permanent team captains for the Crimson Tide. A testament to his leadership on and off the field. The work ethic speaks for itself. Less motivated players may have retired or lost their starting jobs by now. Not Dickerson. He’s a grinder. Somebody who will take command in the middle and set a great example.
D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
The best kinds of stories in football come from the little guys who refuse to be denied. Focus on their height at your own risk. When they get on the field, they play like they’re 10 feet tall. That is Eskridge. He’s only 5’9 but don’t let that fool you. This guy plays with an aggressive mentality. When the ball is in the air, it belongs to him. He has the quickness and agility to go along with his strong hands.
Dude, D'Wayne Eskridge putting on a show against Cam Bynum pic.twitter.com/WodVZ2vKAj
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) January 27, 2021
Yet what might stand out about him the most is the little things he does. Eskridge runs sharp, well-developed routes. He also can be a bully in the running game as a blocker. A testament to both his work ethic and character. He bounced between wide receiver and defensive back at Western Michigan to help cover team injuries. That kind of unselfishness is easy to love.
Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
There is no such thing as too many edge rushers. Especially when the ones you have aren’t performing as well as hoped. Khalil Mack is still a beast but Robert Quinn, Barkevious Mingo, and Trevis Gipson failed to impress at getting to the quarterback. Ossai had no such issues at Texas. He was harassing QBs a lot last season with 5.5 sacks in just nine games and 15.5 tackles for a loss. His burst, bend, and speed stand out quite often.
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) November 3, 2020
What sets him apart? The motor. Ossai has that rare trait of being truly relentless. He doesn’t seem to take plays off. Always going hard. His hand technique is also sharp for this stage, showing an ability to vary up his approach. That means he takes the little details seriously. That is the kind of guy who would fit well in that defensive locker room.
Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
Players who attend Stanford usually meet the same criteria Ryan Pace and the Bears seek. They’re intelligent, they work hard, and they have high character. Adebo is no different. Word is teammates love him and his fun-loving personality. On game day though, he can flip the switch and play with the sort of physicality and discipline expected of cornerbacks Ryan Pace has typically preferred.
He’ll remind people a lot of Kyle Fuller. While not quite the same athlete, he is athletic enough to go along with good size, fluidity, and instincts. He demonstrates a consistent ability to know where the football is going to be when it’s thrown in his direction and can make plays on it. While not a pure cover corner, he can handle almost any assignment given to him.